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Bell Media cutting 120 television jobs in Toronto by Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew

Jun 24, 2014

Source: Toronto Star

Tough times continue in Toronto’s broadcasting industry, with Bell Media announcing plans to cut up to 120 jobs in its Toronto television operations.
That’s about 5 per cent of its Toronto area workforce and nearly 2 per cent of its national team.

Bell Media, a unit of telecom and media giant BCE Inc., informed the Federal Ministry of Labour of the coming job cuts and posted a workplace notice on Monday.

“The television industry is subject to a competitive and fast-changing business environment,” Bell Media president Kevin Crull wrote in an email to Toronto staff.

“The difficult decision to reduce staffing in certain operations was made as we continue to face financial pressure related to advertising and subscription challenges across our TV services.”

The exact number and specific positions have yet to be determined, Crull said. “We will work as quickly as possible to ensure minimum disruption, and hope to resolve the situation by the end of the summer.”

The union received the same notice and has asked for more details, said David Lewington, national representative for Unifor Local 723M, which represents Bell Media workers at MuchMusic, CP24 and BNN.

“We knew that potentially there were layoffs coming,” Lewington said.

“The employer told us in recent contract negotiations that if the projection for second quarter earnings did not improve there may have to be a restructuring.”

In May, BCE Inc. reported first-quarter profit of $615 million, up nearly 9 per cent compared to the year-earlier period.

Revenues for Bell Media rose by 40.7 per cent to $722 million thanks to higher advertising and subscriber fees from BCE’s acquisition of specialty broadcaster Astral Media.

“It’s a bit incredulous that a company that is so profitable would need to lay off 120 people,” Lewington said.

In August, 2013, Bell Media announced plans to cut as many as 100 jobs in Toronto and more in Montreal. The cuts followed BCE’s $3.4 billion purchase of Astral.

In April, CBC announced plans to cut 657 jobs as part of a restructuring as the public broadcaster struggles with $130 million in federal budget cuts, sagging TV ratings and the loss of NHL broadcast rights to rival broadcaster Rogers.

Meanwhile, “Kevin Newman Live” has been cancelled after just seven months on CTV News Channel, the network confirmed on Monday.

The nightly show tackled topics ripped from social media – such as male “My Little Pony” fans called “Bronies” or a smartphone app that helps users record videos of police brutality – as well as more conventional news.

Newman previously anchored “Global National” and served as a co-host of ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
The sudden cancellation is not linked to the latest job cuts, Lewington confirmed.

© Toronto Star